January 29, 2021

Do You Seek Control?

Have you ever been told you need to go with the flow?

Or maybe that you are not flexible enough?

And while hearing words like “go with the flow” or “surrender to the process”, you feel yourself gripping onto your to-do lists and schedule?

Well, today I want to debunk control seeking behaviors and share some neuroscience concepts with you as to why it so normal to seek control.

…Finding comfort in controlling your schedule, closet, kitchen, diet etc. is normal for a brain that has been exposed to trauma.

Okay, are you ready to learn a bit more about the brain? 

Let’s pause to put on your brain based lenses, take a deep exhale, & let’s get nerdy… 

1. Prediction & Safety – Seeking control is actually the nervous system reaching for prediction. And being able to predict what’s coming up next, allows your brain to better answer one vital question:

How safe am I?

And safety? Well, that’s your nervous system’s main goal – to keep you safe and alive, at all costs (yes, that means above your performance, aesthetic or professional goals).

2. Unpredictability (eh hem, 2020) – What happens if we can’t predict what’s coming up next? Our body starts to talk via symptoms like nagging pain, overwhelming anxiousness, or the desperation to take a vacation from our own body. If the year 2020, presented an uptick in symptoms, injuries, anxiety attacks or relapsing to old behaviors this is neuroscience demonstrating how essential prediction and safety is at it’s “finest”… 3. Why? – Well, your brain has a map of every single body part. Pretty cool right? This map is your own personal GPS system. A well functioning and clear GPS system will allow you to get from point A to point B without glitches, hiccups or “re-routing”.

4. Trauma & Blurry Maps – However, if we’ve experienced trauma, our maps get blurry and we can’t predict as well. As a result we may seek control in order to create prediction. It’s our personal attempt to create safety when our GPS is “broken”. We often seek control not necessarily because we can’t go with the flow, but because we are reaching for ways to better understand our level of safety. 

So the next time you find yourself controlling your food, schedule or closet take a breath and remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with your control seeking habits and instead you may be craving prediction to access safety. Prediction is your path towards safety and establishing safety is key in your health & survival. 

Big reassuring hugs as you are so understood in the way you are creating safety in your body…

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